Current Transits for February 2009

Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...


Mercury Direct Station at 21Cp44, 2-1
Saturn Quincunx Chiron, 2-4
Mars enters Aquarius, 2-4
Saturn Opposite Uranus, 2-5
Full Moon / Appulse Lunar Eclipse at 20Le59, 2-9
New Moon at 6Pi34, 2-24
Jupiter Parallel Pluto, 2-25

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

After all the bluster and furor of late January, this month is likely to feel like quite a letdown. The huge planetary storms (including several days of Koz Quakes) are pretty much a thing of the past, although it takes some time for all the steam to go out of them. The first half of February is the long, lingering last hurrah of the January storms, with the last burst of activity peaking around the full moon (a lunar eclipse) on the 9th. Most of the important astrological events happen during this time as well. The second half of the month, on the other hand, is mostly low-level activity with little "oomph!" to affect our lives. By then, it may be particularly hard to accomplish anything, since there is little planetary support for our activities. So while January wrapped up with great plans and a grand vision for the future, we'll be finding reality to be more sluggish and resistant to change than we were imagining. Scale back your expectations to more reasonable levels. Pace yourself to a more sustainable amount of activity so you don't overextend yourself. For a short month, it may feel rather long...

Compared to January, there's not much astrological news of the kind I usually discuss. Of course, there's the Mercury direct station on the 1st and Mars' entry into Aquarius on the 4th. There are a couple of "big aspects" to discuss and one not-so-big one. Keep in mind that the full moon is a lunar eclipse, so we're still in an important transitional time.

Mercury is standing still at 21Cp44, about to resume normal motion. This ends the retrograde period that started Jan 11 when Mercury was stationary at 7Aq45. While it's bad practice to blame everything on just one astrological phenomenon, considering all the stressed out conversations I've heard lately, this Mercury retrograde period has been more brutal than average. Things have rarely gone according to plan, especially if people need to talk to each other first. (For instance, I didn't get the minimum enrollment for one of my classes until after I'd already cancelled it and had to go back and contact people all over again.) On a good day, Mercury is the part of the psyche that tells stories about ourselves and the world we live in, stories that help us understand our lives and navigate through our day-to-day situations. As people are finding to be the case more frequently, a lot of these old stories aren't applicable anymore to the current situation. When this happens, the world starts feeling dangerous, out of control, even a bit crazy. When life doesn't make sense anymore, people slowly panic and freak out. It's this low-level panic reaction that most of my informants have commented on in recent weeks. Even spiritually adept and normally functional people that usually surf rough energies skillfully have been showing signs of stress. So face one big fact: your stories don't work anymore and need to be overhauled. If you can move beyond the emotional investment you have in being a person that knows what's happening and the sense of security that goes with that myth, it's easier to let the world be confusing, challenging and quite interesting. Granted, it's not easy to let down your mental guard and be completely open to the world, so start by jettisoning a few stray assumptions on your part that you don't mind releasing. As we hit the direct station this weekend, some of the mental confusion may start settling down, though it takes Mercury a week or so to get back up to speed again. Examine those assumptions and beliefs that led to the misunderstandings you experienced -- this is the first mental garbage to take out to the trash. As you learn to separate yourself from your stories better, it becomes easier to adjust your thinking when you need to. Keep your mental baggage light.

Saturn is quincunx Chiron on the 4th for the second of 5 such contacts. They started these contacts back on 2008-10-8; the next one is 2009-8-31. Astrologers have a knee-jerk reaction: say "Chiron" and they parrot "Wounded Healer!" I'm not sure that metaphor gets you very far with this aspect. It's important to remember that Chiron and Saturn don't exist in a vacuum, but are closely entangled with other outer planets this year, especially Uranus and Neptune. In fact, the Chiron-Neptune conjunction (which we haven't begun to discuss yet) coming up in 2010 is already active and affecting us in subtle ways that we're mostly unaware of. Generally, I approach Chiron from the perspective of the parts of ourselves that have been rejected, ignored and hence hidden in the closet -- and how to redeem these parts. Currently, Chiron is acting in a collective, group manner. As as a society, what have we lost sight of? Saturn is a very nuts-and-bolts kind of guy, the fellow that insists all the details be handled in a responsible fashion. In a sense, the economic meltdown we're going through can be described as a breakdown in responsible action. Our beliefs structure the way we experience reality, the ways people interact with each other and live together. To the extent that people no longer feel a responsiblity for each other and for our common welfare (the "rugged individualist" myth that has dominated politics for many years), the collective situation of society at large suffers. The business scandals of this strange decade, from Enron on to the present, often boil down to simple greed and the belief that we're above all the societal restrictions that apply to the little person. But in the end, everybody suffers. Greed wasn't the answer we thought it was. Other simple-minded "obvious truths" like this are also not working for us like we thought they would. Perhaps this aspect is trying to get us back to more basic ways of working together that have become unfashionable and quaint. Start with this responsibility theme for now -- as trite as it may sound, we really are all in this together. Quincunx aspects are generally times of readjusting your approach when the same-old isn't working anymore. It's possible to make things really rough for ourselves if we persist in these outmoded behaviors any longer. Be flexible, get back to basics, be aware of how your actions entangle with the lives of others. This is a simple shift with far reaching consequences. Our world can no longer afford to stay on this same path.

Mars moves from Capricorn into Aquarius later on the 4th. He will remain in this sign until Mar 14, when he moves into Pisces. This is a rather odd placement for our Warrior God: imagine a Roman centurion in a lab coat. Aquarius is an air sign, that is, it deals with ideas, intellectual activity, speech and forming connections with others. In fact, Aquarius can practically be described as the search for "big ideas" that tie everything together. He loves the theory that explains and controls everything. While that is useful in technical fields and when working with machines, it's not so helpful when dealing with people. Aquarius loves Truth with a capital "T" and doesn't really get it that other opinions can be different without being wrong. Someone who disagrees with you is not necessarily an infidel to The Cause. Such points of view are terrible orders to give to Mars. Individually and collective, we've used our Mars energy to destroy The Enemy for countless centuries, so back off a minute before going on the attack. Two words of advice to our impetuous Warrior. First of all (and this is a hard one for him), listen to the conflicting points of view and weigh them carefully. These other stories are a good counterbalance to your own blindspots. Keep in mind that Aquarius is prone to abstract ideas that are often divorced from feelings, intuition, common sense and other humanizing traits. That's a recipe for arguing flawlessly to a position that's irrelevant and dead wrong. Other points of view remind you of your own humanity. Also, keep your Mars focused on constructive action, not conflict. That's why working with things instead of people works so well with this placement. This is a great problem solving influence, so use it properly. Be brilliant!

Saturn is opposite Uranus on the 5th, the second of 5 contacts. Their first contact was back on Election Day, Nov 4, which is enough to get your attention right away. Their next contact is Sep 15 and the aspect lasts until 2010-7-26. Oppositions are like a game of tug-of-war: two opposing forces pulling against each other, trying to gain an advantage or resolution. And frankly, Saturn and Uranus are about as opposite as you can get. Saturn is the structure of what is, the inertia that gives the material world its form, structure and resistance. Socially, he's the sense of order and responsibility that enables you to both interact smoothly with others while pursuing your own aims in private. He changes slowly, prefering the tried and true to (as he sees it) reckless experimentation. Uranus, on the other hand, is a rebellious fellow, valuing the new and original to the point of creating change simply for change's sake. He's guided by an idealistic vision that moves ahead without any respect for Saturn's inertia. Having these two tendencies pick up the tug-of-war rope of an opposition (on Election Day, no less!) is a perfect description of what the country is going through now. Unfortunately, this aspect is still young, and any resolution of these contrary tendencies is still a long ways off. You can see this tension played out in the near-religious attraction to the new president in some people, and the equally rabid shadow side reaction that sees only the downfall of civilization in his actions; the divisions in the new Congress are sharp and deep, despite pleas for unity. On the personal level, this aspect pits off your fears and cautiousness against your idealism for a better world. Right now, we're all in a little shock as the Saturn realm of our physical world (especially the economy) stands in shambles -- too much Uranus at the beginning, perhaps? The irony in all this is that it's not an either/or issue. We need to simultaneously build up and strengthen the useful structures in our lives, while tearing down the parts that are outmoded and ill-suited to current challenges -- and the wisdom to know which is which. Similarly, our old dreams and visions need some revision and upkeep, not to mention some discipline, to be of any use amid current realities. Oppositions are always a balancing act, a curious interplay of yin and yang that never stands still. We're far from the end of this dance. It's a creative task ahead of us, long and demanding, so don't get discouraged so soon...

In terms of raw strength, this chart is considerably tamer than the solar eclipse 2 weeks ago (which landed in the middle of several mighty Koz Quakes), but this is still the peak energy of all of February. There are two main groups of planets in the full moon chart. At 20-22 degrees of various signs, we have the Sun and Moon, along with Saturn, Uranus, Chiron and Neptune, much like we've seen for several full moons in a row now. There's a smaller group at 2-5 degrees that includes Pluto, Mars and Venus. Mercury and Jupiter are practically nonplayers at this time.

This lunar eclipse point is intimately connected with all the outer planet patterns that have been driving the energies for several months now. Consequently, this eclipse operates as much in the broader social realm as it does on the personal level, giving extra "fuel" to the outer planet fire all around us. This is a time when you can't think it over before jumping in. You need to be ready to act instinctively. Despite the Moon in Leo, this is not a good influence for acting for your personal benefit alone. That Sun-Chiron-Neptune knot over in Aquarius considerably weakens the power of the individual ego unless it is attuned to something much bigger than itself. You'll likely feel much of the stress in one or two areas of your life in coming months; examine which houses in your birthchart contain the Sun and Moon for clues to where the challenges are for you. Saturn and Uranus may be forcing some major renovation in your life as well. The Venus-Mars-Pluto grouping is easiest to see if you're in a romantic relationship, as it is a mighty stimulant for sexual attractions. If you aren't in such a relationship, the results are likely to manifest in a more inward manner. Some kind of psychic break through is likely in this case, as the unconscious is stirred into action, ready to invade "normal" everyday life. If life feels stranger than usual, this might be the reason. Keep in mind that eclipses normally affect us for 6 to 12 months (at least), so these intense energies are with us for quite some time.

Perhaps the most surprising detail of the new moon chart is that all the outer planets after Jupiter are turned off! It's almost as if the chart stops at Jupiter, which along with Mercury, Venus, Mars and 3 asteroids forms the primary pattern in the chart. The new moon itself is somewhat cut off from this larger pattern, connected only with Ceres and (weakly) Pluto. The outer planets are talking to each other, but not to the bulk of the chart.

This is the first chart in a long time when the intensity knob is actually turned down for a change. It's strangely quiet. All those high-pitched spiritual influences emanating from the unconscious regions seem to have retreated to the shadows for a time. It's kind of a relief at first, although it won't take long before the feeling that something is missing overtakes you. What's left over for us is pretty simple and personal -- no grand, cosmic themes to complicate matters. Life just moves along at a slower, smooth pace with few ups and downs. Granted we could all use some down time, but this is ridiculous. Once again, light mental activity is in order, especially if it leads to some immediate action to carry out your plans. This emphasis on the intellect (6 bodies in Aquarius!) seems to overwhelm the emotions, giving the impression that life is going along rather smoothly for a time. Which is odd, since you'd normally think of a Pisces new moon as saturated in feelings and moodiness. Maybe all the messy stuff is hidden away in the shadows of the psyche, along with all those outer planets on mute. Enjoy the break -- a little calm is appreciated. We'll get back to the hidden stuff in due time...

Jupiter is parallel Pluto on the 25th. This is not exactly a "big aspect" in the usual sense of the term. It's more of a grace note to the Jupiter-Pluto semisextile of Jan 12, a playful exclamation point after the fact. Parallels (and their buddies, contraparallels) are a funny kind of aspect. Instead of measuring the distance between planets as a certain number of degrees around the circle of the zodiac, with a parallel you see whether the planets are the same distance north or south from the equator. The take on parallels by most astrologers is that they operate pretty much like conjunctions -- a powerful and direct merging of planetary energies. The semisextile in January was the first "big aspect" for both Jupiter and Pluto since their respective sign changes recently. During these sign changes, a planet seems to disconnect from the others and go into hibernation prior to switching signs, then slowly reconnects on the other side. So Jan 12 was when Jupiter and Pluto both rejoined the dance of the outer planets. This parallel aspect gives them another chance to jumpstart these new energies. Now I don't normally get too excited about parallels by themselves, but it's interesting that Mercury and Mars are also this same distance south of the equator -- this is a fourfold parallel, more closely aligned with our personal lives. The mood of this aspect is rather unusual, combining the joy and optimism of Jupiter with the quiet depth and intensity of Pluto's transformative world. You touch the raw power of the universe without recoiling your hand. It helps us get used to the potent Pluto energies that are shaking our world and accept them better. This peculiar pattern is perhaps the highlight of late February, so enjoy it. It doesn't last long...

As expected, President Obama's swearing in was a bit late (I clocked it at 12:05:47 EST) on Jan 20. This despite Chief Justice Roberts bungling the oath of office, perhaps a gift from retrograde Mercury. Critics of the new president were already seizing on this flub as "proof" of the illegitimacy of the new president, especially among the bloggers. Just to be on the safe side, Obama was sworn in a second time the next day in the privacy of the Oval Office. Roberts got the wording right this second time.

The 12:05:47 time is extremely interesting in the context of how much Pluto has overshadowed the entire election cycle in 2008. This moves the midheaven slightly to 27Cp33, about 1 minute of arc away from the US Pluto (27Cp34)! Further, the last transiting aspect before the oath was the Galactic Center semisextile the midheaven, while the first aspect after the oath was Pluto trioctile the ascendent, just seconds into his inaugural address. Does this guy have great timing or what? Former President Bush boarded the helicopter and flew off into the sunset under another Pluto contact to the ascendent shortly thereafter.

As expected, friction with Congress is already making life difficult for the new administration. After House Democrats loaded up the stimulus package with all sorts of questionable spending items, not a single House Republican voted for the bill. I guess you can't teach an old politician new tricks. The new spirit of cooperation is going to be sorely tested in Washington this year.

And in the category of greatest exit in all political theater, Governor Blagojevich sat out his impeachment trial by doing the news talk show circuit during the big Koz Quake storm and was removed from office a few days later by an unanimous vote in the Illinois Senate. So long!